OTISFIELD — At least seven people, including a child who suffered critical injuries, were hurt in a two-boat collision on Thompson Lake on Thursday.

Witnesses said the collision knocked children and an adult into the water.

The Maine Warden Service later identified the operators of the boats as Matthew Nolan of Potomac, Md., and Ken Bartow of Biddeford.

According to reports, the boat operated by Bartow with two children aboard — one his grandson — was running along the shore when it collided with Nolan’s boat, who was towing a waterskier.

Bartow and his two young passengers were thrown into the water, as was one of the seven people aboard Nolan’s boat.

Jessica Mason, one of the owners of the New Outpost store on Route 121, said the injured who were taken from her dock appeared to have serious injuries.

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“One of the kids, you could tell his back was really hurt,” Mason said. “And the other one, his face was messed up on the side and one of the other ones, it looked like his lip was busted open. They think the older one had something wrong with his back; he couldn’t even walk or anything.”

One of the patients reportedly suffered a head injury.

One witness said a nearby resident took his boat out and “literally picked the kids out of the water.” 

The Good Samaritan, Harold Kowal, took the injured to the New Outpost where first responders from Otisfield and Oxford staged a rescue and set up a landing zone for the LifeFlight medical helicopter at the Otisfield Community Center, also on Route 121.

About half a dozen Maine wardens were still trying to piece together the details of the accident late Thursday afternoon but said the mishap was not a hit-and-run accident as first reported.

“I’m not seeing it; it was not a hit-and-run,” said Lt. Adam Gormley of the Maine Warden Service as he spoke to reporters at a nearby store and small marina, the New Outpost on Route 121.

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“We know that one boat was being driven by a man and two children along the shore,” Gormley said. “Another boat was apparently towing a water-skier; it came out and the two boats collided and as a result of the collision the gentleman and the two children who were with him were ejected from the boat. That boat unmanned went up into the woods.”

The two children who were ejected were 9 and 10 years old, Gormley said. He said the other boat returned to shore and the occupants called for help.

“I do believe that there were a total of seven people injured out of the 10 involved,” Gormley said. He said those injured were taken to local hospitals and one child was flown by helicopter to either Boston or Portland. “At this point, I understand that the injuries are critical,” Gormley said.

Gormley said wardens would continue to do a thorough investigation.

Bartow’s boat ran aground at 12 Eliot Road, where wardens were taking measurements and continuing their investigation late Thursday afternoon.

While the second boat went to shore to call for help, a nearby resident took his boat out to rescue those in the water, according to witnesses at the scene Thursday afternoon.

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Gormley confirmed that a person had helped with the rescue effort. “I understand there was another person involved that offered a hand. I have not been able to speak to that man yet,” he said.

Gormley said more details on the accident would be released once wardens had time to finish their work.

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Sun Journal Staff Writer Christopher Crosby contributed to this report.


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